The Slatest

Oregon GOP Lawmaker Faces Criminal Charges for Letting Rioters Into State Capitol

Surveillance video shows the moment State Rep. Mike Nearman opened the door and allowed protesters to enter the Oregon State Capitol on Dec. 21, 2020.
Surveillance video shows the moment State Rep. Mike Nearman opened the door and allowed protesters to enter the Oregon State Capitol on Dec. 21, 2020. Screenshot/The Oregonian

A Republican lawmaker in the Oregon House of Representatives is facing two criminal charges for letting rioters into the state Capitol in December. State Rep. Mike Nearman was charged Friday with official misconduct in the first degree, which is a class A misdemeanor, and criminal trespass in the second degree, which is a class C misdemeanor. The charges came after months of investigation into what happened on Dec. 21, when rioters got into the Capitol at a time when it was closed to the public and lawmakers held an emergency session on COVID-19 relief. Surveillance footage showed Nearman leaving the Capitol into a group of protesters trying to get inside. The move appeared designed to allow the demonstrators, who were demanding an end to virus-related restrictions, into the building.

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Shortly after they were able to go inside the demonstrators attacked law enforcement officers, with one even spraying bear mace. That allowed the rioters to push their way further inside the Capitol until they were finally pushed out. After he appeared to leave the path open to protesters, Nearman walked around the building and entered again on the other side.

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Nearman had already been under fire from his colleagues after the surveillance video made clear he played a key role in allowing the demonstrators inside. House Speaker Tina Kotek called for his resignation saying that he “put every person in the Capitol in serious danger” and stripped him of his committee assignments. After the charges, Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner also called for Nearman’s resignation. “Nearman should have resigned in January, the moment that security footage confirmed his involvement and assistance in the attack,” Smith Warner said in a statement. “Given today’s charges, it’s clear that he’s got to go. I urge every one of my colleagues, in every caucus, to call this out for what it is and join me in demanding that Nearman resign immediately.”

Nearman now has to appear in court on May 11 or face arrest.

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